Spencer Howell, 40, and from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, has a young son, David, with his wife Yauheniya, 36, whom he met in Belarus. However, the family were unable to obtain the necessary permits to move to the UK.
Yauheniya, also a trained engineer, has a daughter, Darya, nine, from a previous relationship – and the two traveled to the UK to live with Spencer for six months after she met him in 2015 .
When Yauheniya’s visa ended, she returned to her native Belarus with her daughter to apply for a new one – which was rejected, reports Grimsby Live.
Spencer then had to travel back and forth between the UK and Belarus, as a second visa application for Yauheniya and Darya was also denied.
In March 2017, the couple got married in Belarus and started applying for a spouse visa.
But, despite the fact that Yauheniya passed the two required English tests alongside the application, this visa was also rejected.
Eventually, Spencer moved to Belarus to be with his family and they welcomed their son, David, in September 2018.
Violence and protests in Belarus last year forced the family of four to pack their bags and move to Poland, where they currently live – but they want nothing more than to return to Lincolnshire to be with Spencer’s family.
They have since twice applied for two family permits for Yauheniya and Darya, which would allow them to settle in the UK – but both applications have been rejected on each occasion by the Home Office.
Spencer said his situation took a toll on his mental health as he couldn’t bring his family home to see his father, who has prostate cancer.
He said: “We have been together for a long time, we are married and have two children. What’s the problem? I shouldn’t have to go through all this hell.
“I must have spent around £ 30,000 just on legal fees and translating documents throughout this process. I just want this miserable and painful experience to be over.”
He added: “I just feel like I’ve been uprooted from my friends, family and background, and I just want to be home with my family. I pay my taxes on time and I don’t. owe the government nothing.
“They should have shown us a duty of care instead of letting us die in Belarus.
“I feel devastated, upset and that my daughter has missed so much. She has not been able to return to England for five years, my son has never been there. We paid so much money in attorneys’ fees, in home office fees, and we just got completely cheated.
“It also affects the mental health and well-being of my daughter.
“She asks a lot of questions and obviously I feel totally betrayed. I’m just really, really upset about it.”
Spencer said he had to run his Louth-based property rental business thousands of miles away in Warsaw, Poland.
“I cannot bring my children and my wife home and have a normal family life.
“I am here in a country where it is not my mother tongue. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful to the Polish government and the Polish people for their kindness and help, they have been very welcoming – but it is quite the opposite of what the British government was, ”he said.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The EU’s settlement program has been a resounding success, with almost 6.3 million applications received and more than 5.5 million granted status. granted on November 30 of this year.
“If an individual’s application is denied under the EU Settlement Program’s family permit, they can make another application free of charge and can also appeal up to 28 days from the date they received the decision, inside or outside the UK. “